The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) announced yesterday that it it sending an Augmented Inspection Team (AIT) to the Wolf Creek nuclear power plant in Kansas. The AIT will be looking into the causes of a January 13 incident in which Wolf Creek lost offsite power for three hours after an electrical breaker failed. The loss of power was not an expected result of the breaker failure, and the NRC characterized the loss of power as unexplained. The plant’s emergency diesel generators started following the power loss.
Designating an Augmented Inspection Team is not a common course of action for the NRC. According to a press release from the Commission:
AIT’s are used by the NRC to review more significant events or issues at NRC-licensed facilities. The six-member team has assumed responsibility from the resident inspectors for gathering information about the shutdown event and will travel to the site in the coming weeks. The team will include inspectors from the NRC’s Region IV office, NRC Headquarters in Rockville, Md., and resident inspectors from other plants. The team will be led by NRC Region IV Branch Chief Mark Haire of the Division of Reactor Safety.
“An AIT is used when the NRC wants to promptly dig deeply into the circumstances surrounding an operational event,” said NRC Region IV Administrator Elmo E. Collins. “We want to make sure that all of the circumstances that contributed to this event are well understood in order to prevent a recurrence.”
The AIT will have a number of specific tasks to perform:
The team will put together a detailed chronology of the event, evaluate the adequacy of licensee actions in response to the incident and assess the impact of the prolonged loss of off-site power to non-safety related equipment. The team’s report will not contain inspection findings, but will identify areas for further inspection follow-up.